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$EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

September 1st, 2019

seadollarscrew $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

The winning crew of $EA DOLLAR$, from left to right, Mark Yamaguchi, Mark Budzise, Brandon Rowan, Brandon Nelson, Adam Lewis, Brad Bull, Gary Hervey, Scott Pantle, Randy King, Kurt Pantle, Matt Taylor, Jack Beal, Ace Nelson and Fred Pyle.

Good karma and tuna tenacity fuel a continued tradition of wins at the Texas Billfish Classic

By Brandon Rowan

High stakes and hot fishing are the name of the game every year at the Texas Billfish Classic and 2019 was no different. I was back on board Jack Beal’s 60’ Bertram, $EA DOLLAR$, to keep the night crew’s tuna win streak going. Last year, we hauled in a 90 lb yellowfin tuna that fell just three pounds short of first place. That was tough. We had our sights set on being No. 1 this time around.

Jasen Gast and the whole TBC team put on a killer kick-off party at Freeport RiverPlace the night before fishing started. The next day, we were locked, loaded and ready to head out far into the wild blue of the Gulf. We had a game plan and wasted no time putting it into action.

There were old and new faces on board for this year’s tourney. Introductions and catching up were in order as we roared out to pelagic possibilities. Plenty of laughs and colorful conversation (you guys know who you are) kept us entertained as we neared our first stop.

juvenile mahi mahi $EA DOLLAR$ Tuna Tradition Endures

You never know what you will find out there. Adam Lewis holds up our “trophy” mahi.

TUNA MACHINE

As the sun set on our fishing destination, the night crew geared up and went to work. We had Capt. Mark Yamaguchi at the wheel, Matt Taylor, Kurt Pantle, his cousin Scott, and myself down in the cockpit. Several of the guys on the day crew helped out early in the night and first mate Adam Lewis made many important gaff shots.

It didn’t take long for us to put a nice yellowfin on the deck and crack open the celebration brews. $EA DOLLAR$’ night crew is a well-oiled machine of jig, pop, chum, drift, catch, gaff, rinse and repeat.

The night stayed lively as schools of fish periodically found their way into our chum line and lights. Multiple hook ups on yellowfin and big bruiser 20-30 lb blackfin tuna kept us going until sunrise.

I was absolutely stoked for Kurt’s cousin, Scott, when he landed his first yellowfin tuna, on topwater no less!

“I saw tuna busting on top, luckily I had the popper rod right next to me. I quickly cast it out and after the second pop it was on!” Scott Pantle said.

I’m real happy he got a warm welcome to Texas

 tuna fishing. Scott is from Florida, where blackfin tuna is the target species, not the bait. I was lucky enough to witness that tuna crush the OTI Wombat Popper he had tied on and oh man, it was a beautiful sight to behold.

Every one of us put a yellow on the deck that night. At sunrise, it was time to tally things up. We had 6 yellowfin in the box, including an odd fish I caught on a Williamson Benthos jig. All other fish came from drifting chunks and Scott’s one on the popper. The flying fish piercing parlor was open for business but the tuna were indifferent to our winged offerings.

After a hot shower and a good meal, I hit the bunk with explicit instructions for the trolling guys to come smack me awake if they got into a good fish. The chance to photograph a big blue marlin jumping for the sky takes priority over sleep. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

MEET JJ: The legend himself, JJ. We rescued this Pelican from the middle of the Gulf during the tournament. We were ready to turn him over to Parks & Wildlife but he jumped ship when we reached land.

FREE BIRD FRIDAY

After a good day’s rest, I was back up with camera in hand, waiting for the afternoon billfish bite. The marlin never materialized, but things stayed interesting nonetheless. We spotted a brown pelican bobbing up and down near the rig as we trolled around. We were a good 170 miles out in the middle of the ocean. This bird was in trouble.

We maneuvered over and tried to lure the pelican in through the tuna door with some bait. The poor guy was so weak, he couldn’t even muster the energy to come on board. Our flying fish net became a bird net and we scooped him up and in. We made a cozy spot in the corner with an old towel and named him “Jack Jr.”

We fed JJ as much fish as he wanted and after about 10 pieces and some water, he was content. We don’t know how he got so far out, but this lucky bird nearly became shark bait. JJ rested happily in the corner and regained his strength as he oversaw our tuna operation.

This night began much the same as the last one with a hot bite early. Line peeled away from my reel on the first drift and after a surprisingly short fight I had a respectable yellowfin tuna on the deck. The wheels of our tuna machine kept turning but that was the last yellow of the trip. But again, things stayed interesting.

JJ quickly regained his vigor and, well, actually became something of a terror. He bit Fred and a few others as they walked past. Them birds have some range with that neck! JJ’s happy little corner was on top of the livewell, so depositing flying fish in the tank became a careful procedure.

They say you don’t bite the hand that feeds you, but we forgive you JJ. A sportfisher is no place for a pelican.

JJ stayed on board for the rest of the night and watched the day crew score a white marlin and wahoo at sunrise. He didn’t care at all for the way we screamed back towards land for the weigh-in. Jack Sr. had Parks and Wildlife on the phone, but once we broke the jetties, JJ spotted some of his pelican brethren and left us behind.

“Fishermen and hunters always get a bad rap but we’re all about conservation,” Jack Beal said.

Matt Taylor, Scott Pantle and Kurt Pantle at the Texas Billfish Classic weigh in.

MOMENT OF TRUTH

Good karma paid off. When it was all said and done, we had 7 yellowfin tuna on ice, although no hundred pounders. We weren’t sure what to expect since our 90 lb fish last year was only good enough for second place. We held our breath at the weigh-in as they hung up our first fish. The scales’ flashed “49” and it was high fives and shouts all around! Not only was our win confirmed, but we also took second place with a 47 lb fish.

“If your next paycheck depended on catching a big yellowfin tuna, I would recommend you call the night crew of $EA DOLLAR$!” Matt Taylor said.

$EA DOLLAR$ was presented with a check for a cool $40,500 at the TBC awards dinner later that night. As a bonus, the whole crew walked away with bags of fresh tuna and a story we won’t soon forget.

You never know what you may see when you venture out into the Gulf of Mexico. I can’t help but imagine the sideways and disbelieving glances the other pelicans throw at JJ when he tells his tale. He came away with a strange new story to tell his buddies and so did we.

Fred Pyle and Jack Beal show off the goods.

Gear

May 3rd, 2017

GEAR Gear pelican case Gear

PELICAN Storm Case™ – This watertight case from Pelican is great for fisherman and boaters who want to keep their camera equipment, binoculars, or anything else valuable safe from the elements. Available in a variety of different sizes and colors. Guaranteed for life.

 

 

RINSEKIT Pressured Portable Shower – With no pumping and no batteries, RinseKit delivers a pressurized spray for up to three minutes. RinseKit stores the strength of a regular household spigot or sink (with adapter) and can be quickly filled with hot or cold water. RinseKit’s patented design features the eon™ pressure system that holds up to 2 gallons of water with a spray nozzle that offers seven different settings from jet stream to soaking shower.

 

 

SCOSCHE BoomBOTTLE™ Mini Weatherproof Wireless Speaker – Experience remarkable audio with the boomBOTTLE™ mini. It packs remarkable wireless audio into a rugged IPX4 weatherproof frame. This wireless audio speaker has bluetooth capabilities and a 33 foot wireless range. Perfect for the beach or your boat.

 

 

OCEAN-TAMER Teardrop Marine Bean Bag Chair – Versatile, comfortable, and stylish! The Ocean-Tamer Teardrop also provides you with that much needed neck and back support that comes in handy when making long runs offshore or sleeping on over night trips. Designed with a flat, round bottom that provides you with a stable seating solution that won’t tip over in round seas.

 

 

 

YETI Rambler 20 – With the Yeti Rambler 20 oz. Tumbler, your beverages will stay ice cold or piping hot longer. We over-engineered these double-wall insulated tumblers with an 18/8 stainless steel body, which means your drink still keeps its temperature no matter how much of a beating this cup takes.

 

 

BUCK Saltwater Splizzors – The new multi-function Buck Saltwater Splizzors conveniently combine the use of scissors and pliers to create a versatile tool designed for any fishing task. This version, now with upgraded blade steel and cerakote coating, help maintain the look and feel of the tool, while adding additional corrosion resistance benefits. Blades are composed of 12C27Mod Sandvik, while the frame is composed of 420HC jaw steel with dark grey cerakote coating.

 

 

LUNA SEA Cush-It Grip Cushion – The Luna Sea “Cush-it” grips on any rod handle making it easy to pass the rod from one angler to another. The ultra-tough “Cush-it” protects the angler as well as the boat.

 

 

 

FOREVERLAST Net Bag 15 Gallon – This net bag in the 15 gallon size is a great alternative to a stringer. It provides safe keeping of fish, bait or even gear to dry out and have ready to roll for the next trip.

 

 

 

 

REEL FUN ADVENTURES, LLC. Catcher’s Mitt®Catcher’s Mitt ® allows you to land, unhook, stow or release your catch in seconds. All while keeping your hands and clothes clean and dry. The durable mitt helps you grasp the fish and protects your hand form hooks, teeth and fins. The Rookie comes with the sheath, pliers, reel, mitt and towel. The Rookie is also great to use while you are cleaning you catch.

 

 

SALTY CREW Camo Break Up BoardshortsSalty Crew Camo Break Up Boardshorts are constructed of 92% polyester/8% spandex blend with a 21” outseam. Features Velcro front closure, a back patch pocket with a Velcro flap closure and the very handy Salty Crew plier pocket.

 

 

 

PELAGIC Women’s Oceanflex Active Swim LeggingsPelagic’s new OCEANFLEX series of active-wear was created for women who love to spend time at the beach or on the water and enjoy leading a healthy lifestyle.  These products are made with an ultra-lightweight and comfortable design and built out of Pelagic’s proprietary 4-way stretch, anti-microbial fabric. Featuring ocean-minded designs and stamped with the “Heart of Hooks” icon, the OCEANFLEX line for women will inspire you to stay active and move like water.

 

 

 

KULA Kula 5 Cooler – Meet the Kula 5, a new cooler that combines the best parts of a cooler with a five gallon bucket. Use it as a cooler, seat, bait-well, rod holder, cast net holder, equipment storage or just about anything that you can do with a five-gallon bucket.